Ikechukwu Ezenwa has embraced his status as the most senior player in the Super Eagles camp and the stand-in captain is ensuring new players get to grips with what it means to wear Nigeria’s green and white.
With 19 national team appearances to his name, Ezenwa, 33, is the most experienced of the 25-man squad made up entirely of Nigeria Professional Football League players most of whom have been called up for the first time ahead of next month’s friendly against Mexico at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California.
Twenty two of the players will make the final squad for the trip to the USA and they will be expected to form the bulk of the CHAN Eagles squad.
NFF technical director Austin Eguavoen has been handed the reins of the team with regular boss Gernot Rohr staying away and the entire regular roster of the Super Eagles all recharging their batteries after a long and bruising campaign in European club football.
With so many new faces in the squad, Ezenwa admits to a surreal feel about the team’s Abuja camp and the Heartland goalkeeper has taken it upon himself as stand-in captain to foster team spirit and ensure all the new players understand the privilege accorded to them to represent their country.
“It’s not been easy meeting for the first time, some are newcomers but the most important thing is that solidarity bringing them together and giving them the necessary talks [and] positive vibes to let them understand why they are here because this is not club side football,” Ezenwa said after the team’s first training in Abuja.
“This is [the] national team [where you’re] representing 200 million [people]. In your club, you represent only the state but now you’re representing your state and other states.
“So now, I think I just have to let them know this and always bring them together, pray together and have one spirit to make sure we deliver the task ahead of us.”
List Of Invited Players For Mexico Friendly
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); John Noble (Enyimba FC)
Defenders: Olisa Ndah (Akwa United); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors);Tope Olusesi (Rangers International); Ifeanyi Anaemena (RiversUnited); Christopher Nwaeze (Kwara United); Enyinnaya Kazie (RiversUnited); Mohammed Zirkiflu (Plateau United); Imoh Ubot (Enyimba FC);Tebo Franklin Degaulle (Nasarawa United); Lawal Oriyomi Murtala (KwaraUnited)
Midfielders: Anthony Shimaga (Rangers International); Seth Mayi (AkwaUnited); Uche Nwasonaya (Plateau United); Samuel Nnoshiri (KatsinaUnited); Ekundayo Ojo (Enyimba FC)
Forwards: Anayo Iwuala (Enyimba FC); Stephen Jude (Kwara United);Ibrahim Olawoyin (Rangers International); Charles Ashimene (AkwaUnited); Chinonso Eziekwe (Rangers International); Auwalu Ali Malam(Kano Pillars); Neurot Emmanuel (Plateau United); Abdulmutalif Sanusi(Katsina United)